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Ones to watch: family business appointments from the last year

Several next gens were appointed to the helm of their family businesses in 2015. From Michael Hill International in Australasia to France's Pernod Ricard, we look at whose been left in charge.

Emma Hill, Michael Hill International (New Zealand/Australia)
Promoted: November 2015

Emma Hill started on the shop floor of her family’s jewellery business when she was just a teenager. Since then she has moved through the ranks of the business, which last year had revenues of AU $505.6 million. Hill established the Canadian division of the family business in 2007. She takes over from her father, Michael Hill, who founded the company in 1979.

However, not all shareholders were impressed that the founder had promoted his daughter to the head of the business but the company’s board of directors said being a family-led brand would give it a competitive advantage.

Company outlook for the year ahead: The company’s 10 stores in the US are operating at a loss, though the family is still pressing ahead with expansion plans – it hopes to have 19 stores there by the 2018 financial year. Emma Hill says the difficulty of breaking into the US market has taught the business the importance of differentiating your brand from the competition.

Eighty per cent of the company’s revenue still comes from Australasia, where it has felt the effects of Australia’s lacklustre economy, which has been hit by the commodities slump.


James and Lachlan Murdoch, 21st Century Fox and News Corp (US)
Promoted: June 2015

Lachlan had always been tipped to succeed his infamous father starting at the family’s media empire at the age of 22 and becoming deputy COO by the age of 31. But he quit suddenly having and by 2005 he had started his own Australia-based investment company, Illyria Pty. He returned to the family fold in March 2014 after he was appointed non-executive co-chairman of News Corp. In June he was appointed co-chairman of the family’s film studio 21st Century Fox.

James, on the other hand, came to the spotlight as a 15-year-old intern headlining on The Sydney Morning Herald after being photographed asleep on a sofa while he was meant to be working. It wouldn’t be the last time he courted unfavourable media attention. He became a director at Britain’s Sky Broadcasting in 2003 and was CEO in just a year. However, he was forced to resign from most of his senior roles in the media group after the phone hacking scandal, whereby News of the World was discovered to have illegally tapped into phones of crime victims and high profile newsmakers. He took the position as CEO of 21st Century Fox after his father stepped down from the position in June 2015.

Company outlook for the year ahead: The family empire has split into publisher News Corp and film studio 21st Century Fox. News Corp saw revenues increase 1% to $8.63 billion. The organisation has also been broadening its assets, acquiring romance novel publisher Harlequin Enterprises for $415 million.

21st Century Fox, struggled last month following a lacklustre film performance. Share price of the company dropped by $6 compared to the same period last year. Revenue for this year is also down by $2.9 billion this year. However the future releases include highly anticipated movies such as The Peanuts Movie, Joy and X-men: Apocalypse.

Kumiko Otsuka, Otsuka Kagu (Japan)
Promoted: March 2009 (but survived an attempted ouster by her father in 2015)

Following a family feud, Kumiko’s father company founder Katsuhisa Otsuka, who owns 18% of the company, tried to oust her. However, shareholders backed Kumiko at the annual meeting, as she won 61% of the votes to stay and remain as president. Kumiko graduated from Hitotsubashi University in 1991 from the faculty of economics and joined the corporate planning office and business management team in her family firm in 1994. Otsuka Kagu employs around 1749 people and last year had revenues of $453 million.

Company outlook for the year ahead: Kumiko aims to promote the company’s mid-priced products to expand the family business’s customer base. Her father, on the other hand, had wanted to sell more of the premium range and focus on advertising. Otsuka Kagu has been performing poorly since 2008, which is why shareholders were so keen to promote Otsuka’s new ideas over her father. Rivals like Nitori and IKEA dominate the market in Japan due to cheaper items. Kumiko aims to boost sales by $35 million by the end of this quarter. 

Suzanne Greco, Subway (US)
Promoted: June 2015

Greco has been involved with Subway since 1965 when it was first founded by her brother Fred DeLuca. She started working for the company in 1973, as a “sandwich artist” and has also been leading the research and development team for 24 years. Subway appointed Greco as the president whilst DeLuca batted against leukemia – a disease he passed away from three months later. Subway is listed at number 84 in the Forbes world’s most valuable brands with value of $6.8 billion and sales reaching $19.8 billion in 2014.

Company outlook for the year ahead: Subway is located in 110 countries but has been losing sales. Since 2014 Subway sales in the US has lost 3%. The rise of popular rivals such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Firehouse offering healthier, cheaper and build-your-own meals could cause more loss for Subway.

Alexandre Ricard, Pernod Richard (France)
Promoted: February 2015

Alexandre is the grandson of Paul Ricard who helped create the French alcoholic beverage company through a merger in 1970. He became the youngest CEO of the companies listed in the CAC40 following the retirement of Pierre Pringuet. Ricard started his career outside of the family business working in international consultancy Accenture from 1997 to 1999. He joined his family firm in 2003 in the audit department. By 2006 he was appointed as the managing director of Pernod Ricard Asia Duty Free, as the company recorded profits of $6.5 billion that year.

Company outlook on the year ahead: Like most in the luxury industry, Pernod Ricard has been suffering due to sharp falls in sales in China. As well as an economic slowdown consumers in the country have refrained from buying expensive bottles of brandy and scotch after the Chinese government launched a crackdown on extravagant gift giving to fight corruption. Alexandre aims to overcome this situation by pushing lower-priced products and launching new drinks. Alexandre told the Wall Street Journal that he will pursue the goals of his ancestors by one day surpassing current market leaders Diageo PLC, one of his strategies would be by adding more targeted acquisitions to the family firm.

Adrian Cheng, New World Development (Hong Kong)
Promoted: April 2015

Third-generation family member Adrian Cheng, 34, is the eldest grandson of billionaire Cheng Yu-tung who has an estimated worth of $9 billion. Cheng studied at Harvard University for his arts degree and went onto Japan to study Japanese culture. Upon his return Cheng introduced “art malls”, which are large shopping malls with numerous art pieces on each floor all hand picked by Cheng. In 2008 he established the K11, which was the “world’s first art mall” and cost $2.5 million to construct. He later set up the K11 Art Foundation in 2010, which provides a platform to showcase Chinese artwork to the world. Cheng was appointed as the vice-chairman of New World Development in April. The Hong Kong property focused business generated revenues of $7.3 billion in 2014.

Company outlook on the year ahead: The K11 shopping malls are something new Cheng has added to his family firm. The art shopping malls will now be in 19 projects across Mainland China. In October he expanded his art empire by launching a three-year partnership with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
 


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